The exclusive iTunes release of the Tony nominee for Best Musical is a first for Broadway cast recordings. Presented on the Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records label, Passing Strange is aiming for a July in-store release.
The original Broadway cast album was recorded on April 14 in a live session held on the stage of the Belasco Theatre. The recording captures 24 songs from the musical as well as the applause and reactions from the live audience of friends and fans in attendance.
Stew, the creator and star of Passing Strange, spoke of the live recording at the May 14 Tony nominees press event, explaining, "We just knew we had to [record live] because of the whole vibe of the show. We've been screaming forever that this is a rock show, and it just seemed logical to document it in a live album kind of way."
His Tony-nominated collaborator, Heidi Rodewald, echoed Stew's sentiments on the need to capture the rock-concert feel of the musical. "I'm so glad we decided this — recording in the Belasco made the most sense," Rodewald said, "[because] that's where we're doing this every night."
Rodewald also shed some light on how a musical is captured outside of the standard confines of a recording studio. "We set it up so the actors weren't moving around, and the band sat where we normally do in our little pods, and we were very comfortable. We just played the songs and had an audience come in. I think it was the best way to do it. It really felt natural, and we have a recording that says 'This is how we do this [each night].'" In celebration of the May 27 iTunes release, Passing Strange's cast, band and creative team are hosting a listening party at Sanju Bistro immediately following the 7 PM performance of the new musical. The party is free and open to the public.
Sanju Bistro is located across from Passing Strange's home, the Belasco Theatre, at 120 West 44th Street. The listening party will begin at 9:30 PM.
Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records president Kurt Deutsch and Bill Rosenfield serve as executive producers for the original cast recording, with Passing Strange songwriters Stew and Rodewald as the CD's producers.
The track list for Passing Strange follows:
"Prologue (We Might Play All Night)"
"Baptist Fashion Show"
"Church Blues Revelation/Freight Train"
"Must Have Been High"
"Merci Beacoup, M. Godard"
"Keys (It's Alright)"
"We Just Had Sex"
"Berlin: A Bloke Hole With Taxis"
"May Day (There's A Riot Goin' Down)"
"What's Inside Is Just A Lie/And Now I'm Ready to Explode"
"The Black One"
"Come Down Now"
"Youth's Unfinished Song"
"Work the Wound"
"Love Like That"
Passing Strange features book and lyrics by Stew and music by Stew and his longtime musical partner Heidi Rodewald of The Negro Problem.
The musical – which opened on Broadway Feb. 28 following a critically lauded run at the Public Theater last summer – features the original Public cast, including Stew, de'Adre Aziza, Daniel Breaker, Eisa Davis, Colman Domingo, Chad Goodridge and Rebecca Naomi Jones.
Passing Strange co-author Rodewald heads an onstage band that features Stew as well as Jon Spurney, Christian Cassan and Christian Gibbs.
The semi-autobiographical musical incorporates elements of Stew's life to tell the story of a young black bohemian who leaves behind his middle-class, church-ruled upbringing in Los Angeles to travel abroad in search of his artistic and personal identity.
Passing Strange features choreography by Karole Armitage, scenic design by David Korins, costume design by Elizabeth Hope Clancy and lighting design by Kevin Adams.
Passing Strange's Broadway venture is produced by the Shubert Organization, Inc., Elizabeth Ireland McCann, the Public Theater and Berkeley Rep.
Tickets are available by calling (212) 239-6200 or by visiting www.TeleCharge.com. The Belasco Theatre is located at 111 West 44th Street in Manhattan.